The other day I was talking with a woman at a large non-profit that is trying to improve their enterprise knowledge management efforts. She said that they are using a CRM system and SharePoint to manage information related to all of their internal projects. The CRM is used to track all of the people involved and track key activities and SharePoint is used for sharing and storing all project specific knowledge content.
The problem, as you would expect, is that very few people were using either tool. Sure, there were some pockets of success, but for the most part each individual or team would just do their own thing. Obviously, this did little to preserve knowledge and make it accessible for future use.
She needed help and asked me what she could do to increase effective use of the systems.
Do you have different approval stages for your business projects?
When we were talking about how they manage their internal projects, she indicated they have various formal project reviews and approvals required for a project to proceed to the next stage. The reviews are primarily to manage quality and were required in order for the project to get funding. But they didn’t actually check to see if internal processes were followed or if people were growing the institutional knowledge of the organization.
Make complete & accurate IT use a condition for project advancement
One of the easiest things you can do to help increase effective IT user adoption is to integrate it into the workflow and approval process of your normal work activities. This can apply to internal projects as well as sales reviews.
To be effective, define very specific, measurable system use requirements that must be met in order to gain approval.
This could be things like requiring all related contacts and accounts (specify required fields) are entered, that all major pre-requisite activities are entered (specify required vs. optional activities), and that any required documents are entered.
Also, make sure that all naming conventions and status fields are correct. This is not just an opportunity to make sure information is entered, it is also an opportunity to maintain the quality of the data.
Include timely system use in individual performance reviews
If you want to encourage regular, timely use of your systems (instead of just ensuring data is entered immediately prior to an internal project review), think about including a quick audit of created dates as part of your project approval process. If an individual did not enter the data within required timeframes -- and thus deprived other people the ability to make use of the data in a timely way -- you can identify them and then take appropriate action.
For example, I know of a sales professional at one organization who made his numbers, but didn’t enter the information in the required timeframes. As a result, he was ineligible for a major sought-after reward, namely attending the President’s Club celebration.There are lots of ways you can encourage (or discourage) effective system use as part of your regular business processes. How can you do it in your organization?
Be part of the conversation. Join the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn
Be part of the conversation. Join the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn
Have you ever noticed how many organizations jump to deploy software in hopes it will fix large organizational performance issues? They hope that providing tools - like SharePoint, CRM, ERP, and myriad social sharing systems - that enable collaboration will actually result in improved collaboration.
But spending a lot of time and money on a technical solution alone will not fix an organizational and people problem.
Don’t be silly. Nothing will fix Congress.
Regardless of your political views, the US Congress is a shining example of an organization which does not embrace collaboration.
There are deep differences in values, complex rules and processes that prevent collaboration, a complete lack of accountability, and misaligned incentives. (Let's be honest, most elected officials’ primary concern is their own personal career and desire to win re-election.) This means there is never a shortage of poor performance and finger-pointing.
In short, there are complex levels of organizational dysfunction that no amount of technology alone will fix.
Deploying enterprise collaboration software doesn’t mean your enterprise will collaborate
Enterprise collaboration technology does have the potential to add great value to your organization, and, in many organizations, it does just that. However, it is important to recognize that in order for people to actually change their attitudes and work behaviors to embrace collaboration requires that you look at the people and organizational realities - the actual social (non-technical) systems operating within your organization. If you don’t address these social (non-technical) elements no amount of technology will improve your organization.
Before your invest in collaboration software, ask yourself how your organization is like Congress
Before you even begin to define requirements and evaluate software tools, make sure you ask yourself, “How is my organization like Congress”? Identify all of the people, organizational, process, policy, and operational elements that will drive or prevent actual collaboration. Make sure you have mapped out a strategy – with resources – to address these elements. If you don’t know how to do it, be sure to get help from qualified experts.
Sounds like a lot of hard work? It is. And not many people have the knowledge, understanding and experience in addressing the non-technical aspects of collaboration. But if you don’t correctly handle these elements, your collaboration technology effort will fail before it even begins.
All image rights belong to the artist.
This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years.
In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?
Watch video here.
How do you motivate people to use your IT system?
Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees.
As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”
Would WIIFM motivate this employee?
Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”.
Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.
So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.
Do you remember this Saturday Night Live advertisement skit with Lily Tomlin as a phone company employee?
Customer choice means vendors need to care
Now, just a few years (ok, decades) later, these same phone companies are struggling to reduce customer churn. They are (finally?) realizing that things have changed and the customer now has more power in the relationship. And customers are not afraid to use it.
SaaS vendors need to focus on keeping customers...
Like phone companies, SaaS vendors – or any vendor selling on a subscription basis – realize that reducing churn and keeping customers for as long as possible is essential to their success. Unlike the phone companies of yesteryear, they can’t hold customers hostage and just expect the money to keep rolling in.
…but what do they need to do to reduce churn?
Many organizations recognize the need to retain customers, but they are not sure how.
The secret is simple. If you want to retain customers, make sure they:
1. Are getting value from your product or service, and
2. They enjoy their experience with your organization
If you can do that, you will keep them. As soon as these two things fall short, your customer will leave.
Focus on customer success to reduce churn
Many companies have invested in improving the customer experience and increasing customer satisfaction ratings. Now they to focus on making sure customers are getting full value / benefits realization.
For many organizations, this means creating a Customer Success Management program. Customer success is not account management or even customer service. It is all about helping the customer achieve the measured benefits and ROI that is meaningful to them. It requires different methods, tools, and activities than before.
Do you have a Customer Success Management program? If not, why not? If so, how has it affected your customer churn?
Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.